tones and forms of language and expression in which it is unfolded, and in the many different subjects which it embraces, derives a striking signification, and assumes the character of more than human purpose, in its wonderful adaptation to meet the forms of evil which have since arisen and prevailed. For surely it could be no other wisdom than that to which times and seasons are known, which devised the pattern of the Ark, found so well suited for the storms through which it was to pass. And here again, though our attention may be arrested by the human instruments or incidental occasions which have served to produce the effects noticed, still a variety of contingencies, looking now one way, then another, now behind, and then before, yet all leading to one great end; may be considered to indicate, as in the mysterious figure, and in the language of the Prophet before referred to, that though "the face and the hand of a man" might appear, yet there was something within them wholly Divine, for "the SPIRIT

was in the wheels ;" "whithersoever the SPIRIT was to go, they "went, thither was their Spirit to go." And again, "They "turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head "looked they followed it!" and every part of their multiform and varied shape was "full of eyes round about." (Ezek. ii. and x.) Now before we look on the aspect of things around us, Scripture itself points out the quarter from which the danger is to be apprehended in the latter days, as leading to the great Apostasy. "The man of sin," who is to be revealed, is the ò aroμos, or rejecter of laws. The "mystery which already worketh" is that of lawlessness, (τñs àvoμías, 2 Thess. ii. 7.) That which is to "abound" as the witness to all nations extends itself, is "law"lessness," (rǹv ȧvoμíav, Matt. xxiv. 12.) It is love which is 66 THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS," which is to wax cold : the "great delusion" is to be sent on men, because “they have pleasure in UNRIGHTEOUSNESS :" a "form of godliness is to exist "wherein the power is denied."


If therefore we only look to the inspired Prophecy, we have the character of the evils which are to assail us; but we have more than this, we have these very evils in a striking manner developed before our eyes. Our times are remarkable for pre


senting living evidences of this tendency: this spirit (under the name of liberty) is the proverbial characteristic of our nation; the irregular forms of religion which prevail must be considered (whatever good may at first find a lodging in them,) as more or less modified shapes of "lawlessness." But more than this, the religion of the day will be apt to derive its colour and complexion from the prevailing tendencies of the world around it; and that peculiar form which now most abounds, so much so as to have formed for itself a system, rejecting the restraints of ancient doctrine, has this for its most marked feature, that it has substituted something else for the keeping of the Commandments. Indeed it is well known how much it has evinced a peculiar shrinking sensitiveness against the very mention of obedience, holiness of life, and the like. It will be curious, therefore, if it can be shown, that throughout the changes which the Church has undergone, by alterations little and great, whether designed or accidental, there is a pervading tendency to introduce, and bring out the mention of the Commandments, in the very way to which this age is so repugnant. Nay, it will be more than curious, in connexion with the errors alluded to; it will indicate a purpose beyond that of man, regulating those alterations which have interfered with the strict pattern of ancient worship; the controlling Presence of that SPIRIT that beareth witness.

Before we enter upon the particular points of Obedience, infused throughout our Services, as the preservative against the spirit of lawlessness, we cannot but notice the great and broad line, the basis itself, upon which our Liturgy is constructed. In our Reformation we differ from other Reformations, and as a Church we differ, I think, from other Churches now existing, in retaining more purely and entirely the threefold cord which is not easily broken, Scripture, Tradition, and the Sacraments. Holy Scripture itself, as well as our own natural wisdom, will assure us that in these three will be our safety against the influences of the great deceiver of the latter days. To the Sacraments our blessed SAVIOUR has attached the promise of His Presence; for "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" and "he that "eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in Me, and I

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

"in him." And the voice of God, whether oral or written, "the "traditions which we have been taught, whether by word or

epistle," St. Paul has pointed out as the anchor we are to hold by. These three, the Sacraments "generally necessary to salva"tion," the Word written, and the traditionary system which conveys both of these down to us', (the Sacraments by Stewards to administer, and the Word by authority to establish it Divine,) are our sacred threefold charge. Now all these we have preserved to us in an Apostolic form of worship, like the Ark of the Covenant, made indeed by the hands of man, but under the direction of GoD, in the keeping of which this our deposit lies.


4. Scripture and Tradition combined in the Prayer Book.

Now it may be observed at first sight how the Prayer Book has providentially preserved to us this two-fold bond of Tradition and Scripture, thereby supplying us with, or intimating to us, the Rule of Faith, by the insertion of Catholic documents of different ages together with Sacred Scripture. For instance, by the place which the Te Deum occupies, as allowed to be used indiscriminately with the Canticle from the Apocryphal writings, and as a Scriptural Hymn or Psalm; for it is observable that the other six Hymns answering to these are all from the Scripture. The same may be said of the use of the three Creeds. And with regard to the Athanasian Creed, thus considered in the light of a witness, it may be observed, that the frequent use of it is owing to the Second Book of King Edward, which has appointed it thirteen times instead of six. Thus have we the two threads throughout mutually interwoven with each other; not in any way as equivalent in authority, but as combining for our use in instruction and devotion. Add to these the Collects, which are mostly retained as traditional; and the Epistles and Gospels, which also occupy the respective place they hold on each Sunday as traditional. And, moreover, it is to be thankfully remembered

1 If any one doubt the correctness of this assertion, he may be asked, in what way or system are the Word and Sacraments conveyed to us except by Tradition? Let some other way or system be mentioned which excludes Tradition, and yet brings any persons in these days to the knowledge of the Gospel.

that where the words are not those of the Catholic Church, the words substituted are not, generally speaking, those of an individual, but those of Scripture. Such is the case in the Exhortation at the Commination Service, and in the new Collects. Those that are altered are formed upon the Epistle and Gospel for the day. By this circumstance, while Scripture is made the basis, the mould and form is still according to a traditionary and Catholic system'. And there is another point of view in which this adherence is valuable, that an unity and harmony of spirit is thus in some measure preserved with other Churches, both ancient and modern. Surely such an agreement, though it might appear to be but in things external and formal, yet cannot but be pleasing to Him who is the lover of concord: "who maketh men "to be of one mind in an house," and who has made it the very condition of His blessings, that "two or three shall agree together touching any thing that they shall ask." This may appear but a slight matter, as it refers only to the language, but it is the peculiar blessing of the day of Pentecost, that the children of the SPIRIT Should speak but one tongue, while the curse of Babel still abides on the world. And surely it is no unpleasing nor uninspiring thought, that on the same day the sons of the SPIRIT should be putting up the same spiritual supplications, though separated by nations and tongues; yea, though time and death should rise between, yet that we should in a manner be made one in CHRIST that we should be joined in spirit, and use daily the same words which our forefathers have used for a thousand years, and which, if it be not our own fault, our children's children shall continue to use.


[ocr errors]

5. The Collects for Advent.

But to return to the point alluded to, viz. the provision made against the evils of the latter days, let us take up the first Collects. It so happens that it is in this season of Advent, that the

1 The newly made Collects being formed on the subject of the Epistle and Gospel for the day, is also a proof that this connection or reference had been observed in the ancient service, although such allusions are not always so strictly preserved in the translation.

chief alterations in the Sunday services have been made. Nor does there appear any reason, humanly speaking, why the former ones should have been rejected; they are not in themselves at all objectionable. And now if the advance of time and the approach of the last days would naturally have required any change, it would be at this period of the sacred year :-a change, however, which it was not for man to provide, but for Him who may be thus forming His Church as a providential witness against undeveloped errors, and rendering it instrumental in the preparations for that Day, which is known to neither man nor angel, but to Himself alone.

The first Collect is entirely new in this place and instead of the words of" rejoicing according to the flesh for the coming of "Thy only-begotten Son," in that form which Mr. Palmer quotes as resembling it, it takes up in prayer the language of the Epistle," that we may cast off the works of darkness, and put upon us "the armour of light;" seizing this point from the ancient Epistle, which speaks of "the night being far spent." By this we are reminded at once of the position described above, as the one in which we are placed, as those who amidst the corruptions of the latter days, the eating and drinking foretold, are looking out for the second Advent. In this prayer the Gospel also is combined with the Epistle, as furnishing the lesson of humility from the first coming, in order to carry on our thoughts to the second coming," to judge both the quick and dead." All that is new in Advent appears to represent that voice which speaks in the Revelation-" Remember how thou hast received and heard, " and hold fast, and repent. If thou shalt not watch, I will come


on thee as a thief.” (iii. 3.) Surely the two following Collects do

1 The Collect for the first Sunday in Advent in the Sarum and Roman Missals is not unlike our own for the fourth. That for the second is, "Stir up, O "LORD, our hearts to prepare the ways of Thine only begotten Son, that through "His coming we may be made meet to serve Thee with purified minds, through".. That for the third Sunday in Advent in the Latin form, was, as retained in the Books of Edward, "LORD, we beseech Thee, give ear to our prayers, and by Thy "gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart, by our LORD JESUS "CHRIST." The fourth was the same which we now have, excepting for the changes alluded to. The Collects for the last Sunday in Trinity and the two first Sundays in Advent, begun with the same word, "Excita," "stir up."

« VorigeDoorgaan »